number-5Assistant editor Christopher Sharp takes the reins as we celebrate five years of news and commentary, words and pictures, clothes that make you cheer and clothes that make you cringe. 

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As Ivy Style reaches its fifth anniversary, we are certainly now post-grads no plans on giving up the old alma mater.

Christian reminded me that I have gone from reader to comment-leaver to contributing writer and finally to staff member. Unknown to him, however, is that I had followed Ivy Style since the press release announcing its founding. I loved the collegiate masthead and recognized early how powerful a platform it would become.

I’d thought my writing days were over, but Ivy Style provided a new venue to explore a cherished hobby, and I’ve inadvertently become the resident rain man when it comes to sourcing Ivy miscellanea. I have officially participated for four years, provided 18 articles, and am now assistant editor. For any of you who like financial references, I kind of see myself as the Charlie Munger to Christian’s Warren Buffett.

Having neither the ambition to blog nor the desire to toil in the anonymous neither regions of the Internet, it was the place for me. I spend my time chasing butterflies and falling into rabbit holes and Christian trusts that I will come up with something worthy of our enterprise. I hope that you’ll agree, whether you’ve been with us for five days or the whole five years.

As I write this, I wonder if how I approach a project is not indicative of how the site on the whole presents things. I literally gather ephemera, articles (especially contemporary ones to the subject), advertising, catalogs, trade publications and first-person interviews. The material goes from random facts to compelling narrative, so in a way I feel like a storyteller. I believe we provide much for new arrivals as well something for the mature reader that raises it above just a nostalgic twice-told tale.

Anniversaries allow some latitude for chest-thumping, so let me present what I think makes this site special.

Love or hate the content of any given post, you know who we are. With just a couple of exceptions, the several dozen who have contributed to the site all did so under their own names in the full light of day. I am well aware it would take little effort for any of you to find your way to my doorstep, so I’ll let you know ahead of time that I keep plenty of good spirits around in hopes that you prefer boozing to brawling.

As for that stable of contributors over the past five years, what a wonderful world of diversity. When I used to pester Bruce Boyer with my questions as a young aficionado, I never thought we would become web colleagues, but here we are. As for Richard Press, forget Kevin Bacon and six — how about no degrees of separation? Is there anyone he doesn’t know? Richard represents an unbroken chain to the beginning of Ivy. Did you folks know he used to spend Sundays as a boy looking at fabric swatches with his grandfather? We’re all fortunate to capture and record his memories for posterity. As for others, our man in Japan W. David Marx illuminates the eastern perspective. Comment-leaver and occasional contributor James Kraus reverberates the “Mad Men” era in every projects he tackles. Deirdre Clemente and Rebecca C. Tuite, have shed light on midcentury college clothes and manners and both have forthcoming books, and Jason Marshall has penned jazz portraits as artful as his own playing.

We also offer trade news to our readers. Unlike vanity bloggers, we can stay neutral and give you the facts about new products. We introduce you to players that want to court your business, with no requirement that we endorse every product featured. We encourage you to make your own decisions and to make your voice heard. And trust me, it is heard in some rarified corner offices.

Writing for Ivy Style has also brought me the unanticipated opportunity to connect with my family history. I had almost forgotten — like finding the scarlet letter in the old custom house — that my introduction to Ivy was a childhood glimpse of my father’s class blazer stored in a cedar chest. Natural shoulders, undarted, three buttons with a hook vent. Because of my association, when it came time for the MFIT exhibit I offered up some of the cedar chest treasures. They said no to the blazer as they had more harlequin ones, but they said yes to a graphically interesting sweatshirt. So I got the rare chance to tease my father with the news that he “was going to be in a museum.”

I’ll always recall the fall day when we went to the exhibit to view his sweatshirt together. A nearly ratty piece of cotton with a fuzzy appliquéd cigar-smoking, cudgel-waving bear that he gave to a young nursing student and teenage beauty queen over 50 years ago. He married her, and the sweatshirt went into the cedar chest only to recently emerge. Seeing the sweatshirt that day, I drew ever closer to the memory of a woman we lost too early to cancer, and that handsome blue-blazered, young undergraduate with a shock of black hair who became the father of my youth.

Finally, and here’s where we go from chest-thumping to corny, there are you readers. Our comments section reveals a diverse group of passionate individuals participating in a cavalcade of conflicting opinion. More than anything, you help make the site a lively place to spend some time. — CHRISTOPHER SHARP